Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Predator Friendly?

We've been seeing lots of coyotes around our sheep lately.  The proximity of these predators to our livelihood presents an ethical dilemma for me - I'm always thrilled at seeing local wildlife, but I always worry about the safety of our sheep.  Our friend and partner Ellen called last night, saying that she was a "poor shepherd" because she failed to run over a coyote on her drive back to the ranch.  We both agreed that we would have a hard time killing a predator unless it was actually killing a sheep.

If we didn't use guardian animals (dogs and llamas), I would not be able to say this.  I like to tell folks that we're predator friendly, but our guard dogs are not!  The exception to this, at least for me, is a domestic dog.  We've lost sheep to neighbor dogs, and I think I'd probably have a hard time NOT shooting a domestic dog that was chasing my livestock (even if it hadn't killed anything yet).  A domestic dog kills for sport; a coyote kills for sustenance.  That being said, I'm not sure what I'd do if I found a coyote in the act of killing a sheep.  Since I don't have a rifle with me at all times, the question is probably moot.

One of the things I love about my living is that I have a chance to interact with nature on a daily basis - indeed, I'm dependent on nature for my livelihood.  Success in this livelihood requires me to take the good with the bad.

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